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99c! JULY 20-23








I recently posted on Facebook that I'm writing a full-on battle sequence for Serengeti Valor: The Apprentice, Volume 5. One dedicated reader asked for a teaser.


Karin - this is for you.


Disclaimer: My copy editor has not seen this. All typos are mine.


Racing to Douglas’ call, they discover a dozen well-armed associates and militia advancing on them. More fire-rifle bursts and three of the attackers fall, shot from behind. Lilian has a brief glimpse of Mr. Stefan before he disappears around the stairwell pursued by four of their foes. Another six boil out the stairwell to take the place of the fallen. Douglas recesses the door and drops to his knees next to Irina and begins to fire. Lilian and Seigneur Tristan step up and fire over their heads into the onrushing forces. Four fall before the leaders get too close and Douglas closes the door. The ten remaining attackers take up position and begin to fire steadily at the doors. As robust as they are, repeated fire will eventually shatter the doors.


Fireburst sounds from the risers and two more die from Simon’s and Tabitha’s firerifles. One more of the enemy falls before the remaining seven divide. Four turn to return fire while three cover the door keeping the defenders inside and continue to fire their way through the barrier.


A cry from Vicenza and Lilian runs to the next entrance, Emalia trailing her. The attack on Douglas and Irina is a feint. The main force is attacking here. At least two score of heavily armed associates and militia are advancing. With those that attacked on the other side, there are at least fifty. More than three times the fifteen they had suspected.


Vicenza recesses the doors and drops to his knees next to Rebecca. As they fire, Lilian and Tristan step up join their fire, using the doorframe for shelter from the return volleys. A fifth rifle sounds by Lilian knees, Emalia has squeezed in between Rebecca and Vicenza. Vicenza curses, hauling Emalia out of her exposed position and into the shelter of the doorway.

With only three defending rifles, the attackers increase their advance. When they are within ten paces, Rebecca recesses the doors. They have downed five, and a sixth crawls to the shelter of the riser. 


I often post snippets and thoughts on Facebook that don't warrant a blog entry.  So, if you want the latest:


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Thank you to everyone who voted! *Big Hugs*

Transgressions: The Apprentice, Volume 3 is a 2017 Rone Finalist.  Over the summer, a panel of judges will review/rate all 7 finalists in the Fantasy/Scifi category. Results will be available in the fall.


Transgressions: The Apprentice, Volume 1 is a Rone Award nominee. Sponsored by InD'Tale ezine, Rones recognize the best in Indie fiction. To be nominated is great!  To make it to the finals and the judging would be even better.

For that, Transgressions needs your votes!  Please.

Follow this link to vote:

*** You will need an account for the free Indie Magazine, InD'Tale:   But hey, it's a good magazine, and if you don't like it you an unsubscribe later. 


What is a street team? The short version – a group of volunteers who help create buzz for the books. This intrepid group helps promote The Twelve Systems Chronicles and contributes ideas on everything from blurbs to book covers. 

If you enjoy The Twelve Systems Chronicles, and are willing to spend a little time each week pimping them on social media, please join the street team. There will be swag. Maybe even t-shirts. For now, a signed copy of The Cartel: The Apprentice, Volume 1 is the welcome gift for those brave enough to join Blade & Shield.

To sign-up, please email



FORTUNA is live on all four platforms!



The paperback has been proofed and approved.  It will be available via Amazon.




Note: FORTUNA is available worldwide to the extent these e-tailers allow. Links are only USA.















  • Final versions of the e-book  loaded to Amazon, Kobo, ipad, and Nook?  Check.  
  • Product page live on my website? Check.
  • Physical book formatted for Amazon and proof in the mail? Check.

Proof in the mail?  Yes.  I spring for a physical copy before going live. With Transgressions, I discovered the hard way that the image in the digital proof may vary substantially  from the printed version.  It wasn't a problem with The Cartel or Bright Star.  The printed copies were identical to those in the digital proof.  

Not so with Transgressions. The copies I ordered for giveaways came with covers that were almost black.  Createspace admitted the printing was out of spec, but couldn't correct the problem.   Jim O'Connor, my gallant cover photographer, went three rounds with photo manipulation until we found a version where the printed version looked like the e-book cover.  So this time, we're not taking any chances.   The proof is on its way.

If  the proof is off - no worries.   The e-book will release as scheduled.   Physical copies may take a little longer.

Fortuna: The Apprentice, Volume 4 is coming!

Hopefully, it will be greeted with more enthusiasm than winter. :D


As part of the Goodreads Kiss & Tell Group's February K&T Con event, they have published an interview with Lucius Mercio that occurred about a sevenday before Lilian entered The Cartel.


 *** Interview Transcript ****

"Hi Rachel, Welcome to the Twelve Systems, Metricelli Prime, and Crevasse City, home to Serengeti headquarters."


The author, E.G. Manetti, guides me toward the entrance of one of the city's towering skyscrapers.


"I’m going to walk you in and give you a little background," she explains. "Lucius Mercio is the preeminence of the Serengeti Group, making him one of the richest and most powerful warriors in a society of 50 billion. Not all of those people are warriors, of course. Only 10% of the population can trace their genetic line to one of the Five Warriors that founded their society a millennium ago. And Lucius is in the top two dozen."


Nodding absentmindedly as I follow her through the opulent lobby, we head past the front desk to an elevator.


"Not only is he super rich and powerful. He’s also clever, ambitious, and dangerous. He was thirty-eight when he took over Serengeti six years ago after his father died. Which is young in this galaxy where life expectancy is 110-120. At the time, Serengeti and large sections of the Twelve Systems were being raided by pirates. The Twelve Systems hadn’t known serious war in nearly eight hundred years. It’s not a peaceful or pacifist society. They have crime, some civil unrest, and an occasional skirmish between cartels when competition escalates, but nothing on the scale of years of violent conflict between nations. Of course, they don’t have nations. The cartels pretty much run everything."


The elevator doors open without a sound and we step inside.


"Getting back to my story," Ms. Manetti continues and steadies me when we head up at a speed I wasn't expecting. "When Lucius took over, between the pirates running rampant along the major supply routes and Serengeti competitors grabbing whatever they could in the confusion, the cartel was in trouble. Everyone thought Lucius' biggest rival, the wily and experienced Monsignor Sebastian Mehta would stage a coup. Turns out, he underestimated Lucius. Lucius gathered an army, wiped out the pirates, and negotiated a reward from the governing council that gave him the leverage to consolidate his control and restore Serengeti. In fact, he’s been so successful that it’s rumored he sold his soul to the Shade of the First Warrior, Socraide Omsted."


"Wow," I manage to utter while trying to keep down my last meal on the trip to one of the uppermost floors.


The author smiles. "Not that I believe that for a minute. Here we are, his office suite is through those big onyx doors. Did I mention he’s tall and muscular. The paparazzi like the word ‘virile.’ Those black eyes don’t miss much. He’ll know if you lie. They say he can read minds, but I think he’s just really good at reading people. He’s had to be. He may have inherited his position, but the only way he has kept it was through ruthlessness and cunning."


"Here we are." 

“Welcome, Mistress Rachel,” Lucius rises from behind his desk to greet his guest. “Let us sit by the windows. Would you like tea? Water?”


Dark and deliciously intimidating, I stare at him for far longer than socially appropriate and give Ms. Manetti an awkward wave as she takes her leave.


Taking a seat opposite me, Lucius relaxes into the plush chair, legs extended, fingers steepled. “Whenever it pleases you."


"Right, yes. So sorry." I follow his lead and accept a glass of water. "Ms. Manetti advised me earlier that I should address you as Monsignor Lucius? That here it's customary for only close friends and family to use given names?"


He nods slowly, and I can't shake the impression he's reading my every word and move.


"Let's uh, let's just get right to it then?" I push my bangs behind an ear and pull out my notepad.


"Which is your wish that is not yet fulfilled?"


Lucius sits back, completely at ease in his office. "I believe it’s well known in the Twelve Systems. I wish to see Serengeti advance from fourth to third among the cartels. Not only for the sake of my family, but because as one of the three, we will be able to influence the course of the Twelve Systems, bringing new opportunity to all its inhabitants, not only those of warrior descent. If we learned one thing from the pirate actions, it is that the Twelve Systems has become complacent. We have lost the drive and passion that brought order out the anarchy of war. I wish to see Serengeti lead a renaissance in warrior values and virtues."


Power practically resonates from this man. I take a drink of water in an effort to cool off.


"If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be?"


"There is not an event in modern times I cannot attend, if I will it. Past or present? That is more difficult. If the Five Warriors will it, I will live to see my great grandchildren win their warrior blades. For the past, I wish what we all wish. To have been there the day the Five Warriors ratified the Code of Engagement and ended three centuries of stellar warfare."


My mind spins at his answer, unfamiliar with the ways of his world. "If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?" I ask.


"Fly," he replies with a smile. "I have always wanted to pilot a flyer in the annual moon races. When I was young, my father would not hear of it. Not the danger--he thought it frivolous. Now, even if I could find the time to learn, I’m well past the thirty-five-year limit on eligibility."


Eying his physique, I seriously doubt he'd be anything but phenomenal at any form of physical activity. I clear my throat and ask my next question.


"Have you ever had something happen to you that you thought was bad but it turned out to be for the best?"


"To me? Naught that I am willing to discuss. I can say that I have turned difficult challenges to my advantage. This past month, the woman I waited two years to take as my protégé was nearly sentenced to death. The loss of her talents could have delayed some of my plans. As it is, I have succeeded in negotiating a trial by ordeal and will take her as my apprentice. I will have her talents and a great deal more control than I would if she were protégé."


I narrow my gaze, just by a fraction.


"You look skeptical," he asserts correctly. "I realize many consider an apprentice a warrior’s plaything, and not an asset. I assure you, I have acquired Lilian for her intellectual accomplishments. That she is comely is naught but a bonus."


I scribble some notes and continue the interview. "If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be, and why?"


"I would be present for my grandsire’s passing. We knew Jonah was reaching his end of days. My father refused to allow me leave from my protégé posting on Socraide Prime for a final visit. Had I to do it again, I would defy him and attend my grandsire."


"Any religious views?"


"I am Lord Patron of the First Warrior’s sect. It is my duty and privilege to ensure that his shrines are well maintained and funded. Without the guidance of the canons and warrior honor do we have any hope of maintaining order and resisting the return of warfare and anarchy?"


My head cants to the side, a slight motion I wouldn't have ever thought he'd even notice.


"I have surprised you."


"Perhaps a bit," I admit.


"I assure you, I am not superstitious. I do not share the commoner belief that the Five Warriors interfere in our daily lives, only that the spirit and the wisdom of their canons provide the guidance we need to continue to thrive and advance as a society."


"I understand. What has been your biggest challenge?"


"You expect me to answer 'waging war on the pirates'. That was difficult and violent. The bigger challenge was persuading the governing council to join its forces with the Serengeti Militia to create an armada sufficient to defeat the pirates."

"And your biggest success up until now?"


"Success?" he asks. "Triumphs are fleeting. I prefer to recognize my greatest honor--ascending to Preeminence of Serengeti."


Lucius' pride shows on the hard planes of his face and I suppress a smile before moving on. "What is the most evil thing you have ever done?"


"Evil? Do you question my honor? I have made difficult decisions. Sent honorable militia to die in the pirate actions. It was not pleasant, but it was necessary to restore order."


"Sacrifices must be made for the greater good, I realize that of course. Believe me Monsignor Lucius, the last thing I'd do would be to question your honor."


He nods again, a measured tilt of his head, and gestures that I go on.


"Why did you choose your profession?"


"I was born to it."


"I see. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?"


"I can travel anywhere in the world. Or the Twelve Systems, for that matter. When I can I manage it, I enjoy my citrus plantations near the sea on the southern continent. The plantations have endured nearly a millennia and the sea is ageless."


"That sounds quite beautiful. Last question, and thank you kindly for agreeing to this panel. What do you look for in a potential lover?"


"The usual," he answers, his dark eyes almost unnerving. "Charm, intelligence, wit, and a reasonable amount of physical appeal."


99c through 2/20!












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*Sorry Nook fans, B&N doesn't offer indies a 'pre-order' option. Fortuna will be available at B&N 3/9




The Apprentice, Volume 4


Release Date:  March 9, 2017. 

e-book @ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple.  

Quality paperback @ Amazon



e-book Pre-Order: February 16, 2017

Amazon * Kobo * Apple

*B&N doesn't offer pre-order as an option for small publishers.


As my readers know, I write in present tense.  I like the immediacy it gives to the action.   It is also a relatively recent development in fiction where past tense is the traditional mode of story-telling.   While I have had a few potential readers shelve The Twelve Systems Chronicles after reading the sample due to an aversion to present tense, it has not troubled me.   It is unrealistic to expect every potential reader to like my stories.


On the other hand, like all indie author - and a growing number of traditionally published authors - I struggle for visibility.   With a limited marketing budget, one of the best sources for getting f my novels discovered are credible 3rd party reviewers.   While In'DTale ezine has accepted and favorably reviewed both Bright Star and Transgressions, I've discovered that many other potential review sites dismiss present tense narrative out of hand.


So the conundrum.  Do I switch to past tense including the effort to revise and issue second editions of The Cartel, Bright Star, and Transgressions?  Or do I concentrate on finishing the series?


And - most importantly - what will readers who have enjoyed the novels in present tense think?


If you have read and enjoyed The Cartel and would like to venture an opinion - the first two chapters of The Cartel are available in pdf format on left side of this page.


Or, they can be reviewed on wattpad

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.


Honor endures.


The first round review was relatively painless - minor tweaks to pacing and some clarifications. Revised manuscript is back with Razor Sharp Editing and the red pen.  The next major hurdle is the cover and I better get cracking on the concept if Jim O'Connor Photography is going to have time work his magic.

So far, FORTUNA remains on track for a March 2017 release.   In the meantime, here's another glimpse into volume 4.

Lilian’s starts awake, pulling her thorn from beneath her pillow. What is amiss?

The predawn air is cool as it slides along her shoulders and upper back, bared when her movement shrugged the comforter to her waist. Her eyes adjust quickly to the dim light. She is alone. What then? Turning to sit, soundlessly pushing the faded celestial blue quilt to her feet, Lilian listens hard.

At a faint rustling, Lilian tilts her head toward the courtyard eaves where the worn courtyard covers are rolled-up for the season. Another rustle. A soft coo. Doves. The doves have returned. They love to nest in the dry, secluded area between the courtyard covers and the eaves.


With a resigned sigh, Lilian pushes to her feet, the glinting warbelt settling into place. The birds are harmless, but their acidic droppings are not. The house’s ancient stone and decrepit courtyard covers cannot tolerate the erosion. Touching the Cartel slate seated in the stand on her bedside table, Lilian confirms the time. It lacks half a bell to dawn. Enough time for Lilian to climb into the harness and rout the squatting birds before she joins Maman in the courtyard. 


Today, the manuscript for Fortuna: The Apprentice, Volume 4 went to Razor Sharp editing for final development edits.  It's always an intense moment.  I'm thrilled I have the story completed.  I'm terrified that editor will come back with so much red that I'll need to start over. It happens.


So, I'll be biting my nails for the next two weeks, waiting for the edit. I want Razor Sharp to be ruthless - it will make for a better book.  I want Razor Sharp to love it because, well, I do.   Hence, the nail biting.


In the meantime, a not-yet-editor-approved excerpt to celebrate the milestone.


***Chapter 1 begins the day after Transgressions: The Apprentice, Volume 3 ends***

Leaning back in the scarlet leather desk chair, Lucius gazes out at the capital of the Third System. Crevasse City straddles the origin of the Great Crevasse, the largest Vistrite mine in the Twelve Systems. Once the foundation of Fourth Warrior’s kingdom, they form the center of Lucius’ modern empire. It has only been a sevenday since Sebastian Mehta was banished from the Cartel, taking his ill-temper and ceaseless intrigues with him. Lucius can look forward to attending the Bright Star Summit without needing to worry that in his absence, Sebastian will create new problems.


At the sound of eighth bell chimes, the scarlet door recesses and Lilian steps lightly into the chamber, the lithe grace of her slender form highlighted by the stark black suit of a Blooded Dagger apprentice. Pulled tightly to her head and constrained in a warrior’s queue, Lilian’s dark red hair appears nearly as black as the suit. The severe hairstyle reveals her fine bone structure, creamy complexion, and most importantly to Lucius, gray eyes unclouded by weariness or anxiety.


Their late night passion has not left her weary. If anything, she appears better for it. The evidence of Lilian’s remarkable resiliency is pleasing, but Lucius does not trust it. Lilian endured terrible abuse at the hands of Sebastian Mehta and his protégé Martin. For all her apparent wellbeing, Lucius remains concerned that the violent assaults of the past two-years have pushed her to the verge of collapse.  If she were another, Lucius would give her several sevendays respite to fully recover.  It will not serve. The terms of trial by ordeal forbid it and her involvement in both Bright Star and Mercium make such measures impractical. As it is, all Lucius fully intends to keep her assignment load in check through the Bright Star Summit on Fortuna nearly two months hence.  The stellar voyage and the summit will allow Lucius to provide her with increased respite without it becoming visible.  For the moment, all he can do is watch her and continue with commerce as usual.


“What have you for me?” Lucius smiles the routine command as Lilian comes to attention on the far side of his expansive ebony desk.


“The most recent Bright Star financials,” Lilian replies, pulling forth her slate. With a quick glance at her notes, Lilian launches into her prepared status recitation. There is nothing new in the routine report, but that is not the purpose. It is an exercise in commerce discipline. It also offers Lucius the opportunity to relax and enjoy the sight of Lilian’s long legs, revealed by the skirt hemmed four inches above her knee as he requires.


“Well done,” Lucius acknowledges as Lilian completes her recitation. “You need not attend me this midday.”


“Yes, milord.” Lilian’s dutiful response holds a flattering hint of regret.


Lucius regrets it as well. As much as he enjoys bending Lilian over his desk, he has a much less pleasant task this midday. Normally, a public caning would not be worth his time. In this instance, he has no choice. “I will be absent from the Cartel.”


At his words, Lilian’s face closes into shuttered, stoic lines. The slender fingers flutter along the scarlet conservator seal. Demon shit! Lilian is well aware of what takes Lucius from the Cartel this day. The reminder can be naught but distressing for her.
Pushing back his chair, Lucius beckons his apprentice. “Come here.”


Obediently, Lilian rounds the desk and steps between his spread thighs. Setting his hands on her waist, Lucius can feel her tension. Watching her face for the least sign of emotion, Lucius rubs his thumbs lightly – and he hopes reassuringly – across her taut midriff. “He cannot hurt you again. After this day, Martin Argon will be banished from the Third System.”


“Yes milord,” Lilian agrees, her spine relaxing slightly. “I will be glad when it is done, and he is gone.”


“I as well,” Lucius admits. Martin’s Cartel caning and banishment were but the start of his penalties for his assault on Lilian. Under the governing protocols, an assault on Lucius’ conservator is treated as assault on Lucius. The civil authorities have extracted additional fines on Lucius behalf and sentenced Martin to a public caning. Lucius does not ask again if Lilian wishes to witness the event, aware of her profound aversion to corporal punishment due to Gariten’s abuse of her mother. She witnessed Martin’s Cartel caning because it could not be avoided. Simply knowing about today’s execution may well be causing the return of evil memories.


When Lilian entered the Cartel, Sebastian Mehta was monsignor of Grey Spear Cartouche and a Cartel governor. For over a decade Sebastian had thwarted Lucius’ ambitions and attempted to undermine his authority. One of Sebastian’s cruelest intrigues saw Lilian viciously scourged. Within a season, it was followed by Martin’s assault in the Archives. As it is, Lilian is safe, and Martin is to be caned for his crimes. Sebastian has been swept from the Cartel as ‘disordered in his wits,’ a victory Lucius achieved with significant aid from his rapidly paling apprentice. “Will it be well with you this day?”


“Yes milord,” Lilian insists tightly. “I beg milord’s pardon. I did not mean to …”


With a helpless gesture, Lilian trails off, unable to find words for the emotions she is repressing.

Knowing there is naught else he can say to relieve Lilian’s distress, Lucius settles for pulling her into his lap for a prolonged kiss.


For those who like their science-fiction with interstellar travel, this sneak peek from Fortuna: The Apprentice, Volume 4 is for you.

Lucius stretches out his legs and glances over at his apprentice. Lilian’s head is bent toward her slate as she rapidly taps instructions. Her good humor pleases him, evidence that she is recovering from the violence of her assaults at the hands of Grey Spear. The relaxed posture exhibits naught of strain that could have her startling at shadows. The journey to Fortuna is already benefiting his apprentice.


Immersed in his thoughts, they are almost to the pavilion before Lucius realizes Lilian’s competent tapping has ceased. Her earlier relaxation is gone, replaced by ramrod posture, a stoic expression, and a tight grip on the slate satchel where her thorn resides. What troubles the woman? Before Lucius can explore this latest enigma, Mr. George is opening the door of the transport.


The Shimmering Horizon is among the most luxurious transports in the Twelve Systems. For most of the year, it travels between the commerce centers of the Third and Second Systems. Only during the green season does travel to Fortuna. The only transports that are finer do not transit to the Fourth System at all.


A deferential steward escorts them to a suite in a quiet and secluded section of the transport where a Blooded Dagger Militia guard already in position by the door. Inside the suite, the steward guides them through a well-appointed and commodious reception salon divided into three seating areas and a dining section. The amenities include a wall-sized reviewer on the long interior wall and window the length of the chamber with a view of the Stellar Transport Center.


There are two doors off the reception salon. Directly opposite the entry door are the double doors that lead to Lucius’ bed chamber which in turn has a single door on the left that leads to a comfortable freshening closet. Adjoining Lucius’ freshening chamber and accessible through an entrance next to the reviewer is the servitor’s complete with a miniscule excuse for a freshening closet.


Lilian cannot fail to make the obvious comparison between the luxury of milord’s accommodations and the Spartan nature of the militia transport that returned her and her family to Metricelli Prime two years gone. Repressing a shudder, refusing to allow the memories of that ordeal to overwhelm her, Lilian focuses on the stellar transit center beyond the window. She is not looking forward to when the planet disappears to be replaced by the star-filled void.


“What think you, Lilian?” Milord tosses his jacket on a chair and drops onto the oversize couch opposite the reviewer.


That I pray this stellar journey will be more agreeable than my last. Do not voice that. “The accommodations are very fine.”


Milord’s eyes narrow and his lips firm in unspoken command. Cautiously, Lilian adds, “Much nicer than the utilitarian accommodations of a militia transport.”


As Lucius suspected, Lilian is troubled by evil memories of her protocol review. Although Lilian does not know it, Lucius owns the only monitor recording of Remus Gariten’s Final Draught and the ugly scene it included. The nasty militia corporal who allowed Lilian’s abuse no longer lives. Trevelyan’s operatives eliminated that particular threat to his apprentice with their customary efficiency. It occurs to Lucius that the pervert might not have been the only one. Media reports of prisoner abuse are common enough. Reaching out a hand, Lucius beckons to Lilian. Pulling her down next to him on the couch, he encircles her shoulders with one arm. “Were they cruel to you?”


Raising startled eyes, Lilian shakes her head in denial, “No milord. For the most part the militia officers were indifferent. Prisoners are but cargo to be transported safely, free of damage, and with as little effort as possible.”


A shadow flickers across Lilian’s face, and she adds, “There was one very nasty corporal. Fortunately, I was no longer a prisoner when I encountered him.”


With a gentle squeeze, Lucius encourages Lilian to continue. If there is aught of the corporal Lucius does not know, he will know it now.


With a lightening of her features, Lilian adds, “He came to a violent end some months gone. It was in the media. I admit, I pray regularly for the wellbeing of his murderers.”


Stunned and amused, Lucius pulls Lilian in for a kiss. Releasing her after several enjoyable moments, Lucius notes with pleasure Lilian’s wide eyes and red, swollen lips. A heartbeat later, sharp intellect replaces Lilian’s bemusement and a hint of wariness, “Should I be naming Seigneur Trevelyan in my prayers?”


Demon shit. Lilian is well aware Trevelyan’s services are often less than legal, and she is beyond intuitive.


Lilian’s eyes darken. Lucius’ silence is answer enough. “Milord has viewed the recording.”


“I have,” Lucius admits, wondering at her distress. The man was a threat to Lilian, and she was pleased to pray for his killers.


Lilian drops her eyes, her fingers nervously tracing the weave of her cheap linen skirt. “Milord is not… my behavior… I…”


Provoked by Gariten’s verbal abuse of Helena and Katleen, Lilian had put her thorn to his throat and compelled him to swallow the Final Draught. Raising a weapon to her sire violated multiple taboos, threatening patricide bordered on an annihilation crime. None of this troubles Lucius. Cupping Lilian’s chin, he tilts her face to meet his gaze. “Peace, woman. You have no cause for shame. The corporal should never have permitted Gariten’s abuse. It was the corporal’s duty to administer the Draught. You did naught but what was necessary.”


Lilian’s eyes flare and brighten with emotion. Lowering her lashes, Lilian turns her face into his hand to kiss Lucius’ fingers. Her murmured, ‘my thanks, milord’ is felt as much as heard. The gesture sends a familiar stab of lust to Lucius’ groin and a curious warmth to his heart. Unable to resist, he asks, “Will your prayers add my name to Trevelyan’s?”


“There is no need, milord,” Lilian’s eyes are full of conviction. “Milord’s name has long been included.”


Both lust and the odd warmth ignite into heat, Lucius drags Lilian close, claiming her mouth.


Milord’s mouth descends in a plundering kiss, scattering Lilian’s wits and swamping her senses. Relief that milord is not horrified by her behavior at Gariten’s execution blends with wonder that milord saw to her protection with the assassination of the corporal. Lilian knew that once she proved her bond, the corporal would have used that incident for blackmail. Had milord not had the man slain, it would have fallen to Lilian.


To Lilian’s regret, milord proceeds no further than a kiss. Gently releasing her, milord says, “We have some bells until planet exit. It would be well to take advantage of the communications network while we may.”


Nodding, Lilian shifts to the other side of the couch and takes up her slate. She is anxious to complete the fisheries analysis before communications become difficult. At midday, Lilian begs to retreat for a few moments. Returning to the salon, she discovers Milord seated at a table, a meal for two arrayed before him, his slate resting on its stand. At milord’s gesture, Lilian collects her slate and takes her place. They eat in silence, both focused on commerce. As soon as milord rises from table, Lilian follows, retreating to her chamber to cleanse as milord disappears into his. When she returns to her place on the couch, the phantom servitors have removed the debris from the meal.


Within a bell, chimes sound, alerting Lilian to deactivate her slate. Milord is already moving to a chair that faces the window where passengers can have a clear view of Metricelli Prime dropping away. It is not the first time Lilian has been on a luxury stellar transport. Even in the finest accommodations the g-force is breathtaking, as is the knowledge that once it ceases, they have entered the void.


As the pressure of planet exit fades, Metricelli Prime turns into a small green ball. It will be two years before construction completes on the SEV1 and it launches for the Thirteenth system. Even with all their plans and preparations, there is much that could go amiss. Lilian is overwhelmed at the thought of the courage it will take the SEV1 crew to leave the last beacon behind and head into the void with nothing to guide them but the markers left by the Serengeti XII probe. Naught but a fragile trail of candles across a vast darkness.


“It is a fearsome notion,” Milord echoes her thoughts.


Whether milord can read her mind or is simply that intuitive, there is no purpose in dissembling. “Yes, milord, all those stars and only twelve that are beaconed. It would be very easy to get lost in the void.”


Gazing into the inky black scattered with pinpricks of light, Lilian’s mind starts to work through the SEV1 plans again, seeking flaws and risks. Nickolas and Fletcher will be on the SEV1. They will not be lost.


Again, as if reading her mind, milord says, “Then we must make very certain that the SEV1 does not get lost.”


“Yes, milord.”


Shortly after third bell, the release chimes sound. They have left the Third System. The speed of the transport has turned the pinpricks into streamers of light as the Shimmering Horizon leaps toward the next beacon.  The passengers are at liberty to move about the transport.


I recently discovered OmniLit, All Romance eBooks (ARe) alternative site for titles that aren't classically 'romance.' 

Like ARe, OmniLit has a fabulous frequent buyer program where readers can build points to free books.  And, from my personal account, OmnLit and ARe purchase points are cumulative.  So points from books bough on ARe can be used for OmniLit titles and vice versa. 

How cool is that?

So, now ARe fans can find all the Twelve Systems Chronicles at OmniLit - and acquire points!

The Cartel: The Apprentice, Volume 1:

Bright Star: The Apprentice, Volume 2:

Transgressions: The Apprentice, Volume 3:

The Twelve Systems Bundle: The Cartel & Bright Star:


Happy mid-summer everyone.   Not 'Midsummer' as in the summer solstice. Mid-summer as in that point at the end of July and the beginning of August when there is as much hot weather in front of us as behind us, they daylight hours are long and there lots of opportunities for leisurely reading.


To help everyone take advantage of the long lazy days of summer, The Twelve Systems Bundle: The Cartel & Bright Star is discounted to $2.99 through August 2nd. (Regular price $4.99).


680 pages of pure escapism.


InD’Tale Magazine says about the Twelve System Chronicles:


“Bright Star" is a science fiction diorama brilliantly crafted … the characters are the highlight of this complex world of political intrigue, religion, relationships, family honor, and science.”


“Ms. Manetti’s gift with prose creates a compelling world which draws the reader in and holds their attention to the end… One hungers for more after turning the last page."


*all amazon stores*




OmniLit (aka AllRomanceEbooks):


The Twelve Systems Bundle



The cell is dark and cold. The toilet doesn't flush and the stench is so strong it has mass. She hasn't been fed.  The guards fowled her water with their personal waste. 

The dark and cold were meant to destroy her will, make her beg. The lack of food and water were meant to kill her. Not the warlord's will.  His guards' retaliation for the death of one of their own. Rapist pig.  Or would be rapist. The memory makes her smile as she bites down. Rat blood is disgusting. It has enough liquid and protein to keep her alive. The dark is her friend. The stink hides her location.

It's been two days.  She can wait no longer or her strength will fail. Her weapon tight in her grip, she crouches by the entrance.  It is time for her so-called meal.

"Haven't heard a peep in hours," the baritone grunts, sliding the feeding slot open.  "Here girly, girly."

She doesn't move, keeping her breath a shallow whisper in the  cold and dark.

"Hear anything?" A gravelly voice demands.

"Nah, she's done.  Probably fainted from hunger 'n thirst," the baritone says.  "Easy pickins'"

"Gotta kill her," Gravelly's voice is harsh.  "If he finds out, we're as good as impaled."

"You got high?" Baritone asks.

"You're low," Gravelly agrees.

The door opens, the light is blinding.  Or would be. Eyes closed, she surges forward - high then low.   The small, overlooked blade slashes fast and deep.

The sound of falling bodies tells her she is free.  Dead, dying, or wounded, it makes no difference. Springing into the hall, she shields her eyes with the hand not holding the blade. Her feet follow the pattern she memorized when they dragged her here.  Her heart hammers and she drags in clean air.   

Weak, half blind, she bursts into Jonathan's hall. Her thorn flies before her, slashing half-seen shadows from her path.  Shouts echo in panic.

"Crap, it's Adelaide!  She's loose!"


My KU experiment with  The Cartel, The Apprentice Volume 1 ended yesterday.


There is no question that the per 'book' royalty is substantially better than on the $1.99 that seems to be price point needed to encourage readers to give it a try.


The loss of sales from other platforms was roughly offset by what appears to be increased 'book' sales on Amazon, but the KU experiment didn't increase sales.  Although the actual number of 'new readers' is a guess due to the way KU reads are tracked and reported.


As we know, KU's page counting algorithms are limited.  Claims that KU can 'tell if pages have been read rather than skipped' have been debunked.   So, I have know way of knowing: 1) if the page counts reflect complete reads or  a high incidence of abandonment; or 2) if readers have finished, but reset to the prologue or character list before returning. 


To be fair to Amazon's KU program, I have not fully exploited all the marketing and advertising programs available. So it is possible, more 'sales' of the Cartel could have been achieved.  Somehow, there is never enough time to market as well as write.


BUT - this is a big one -  sales of the next books in the series are not as strong as when readers 'buy' The Cartel.  Is that because KU readers simply move onto the next 'free read' - of which there are thousands?  Is that the 'sales' are people more willing to try an unknown author but also quicker to abandon and move on to the next 'freebie'?  I have no way of knowing.


Ultimately, what I hope for with each sale of The Cartel is an enthusiastic reader who will go onto buy and read Bright Star, Transgressions, and all the other books to come.


So, for now,  KU and The Cartel are parting ways.  It will remain available on Amazon at the bargain price of US$1.99 and will reappear at Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.


The latest volume in the Twelve Systems Chronicles received a rave review from InD'Tale Magazine. If you aren't familiar with InD'Tale - it's a magazine dedicated to identifying the best in indie romances of all sub-genres.

Check out the on-line magazine and you will see that Transgressions: The Apprentice, Volume 3 received the coveted 'Crowned Heart' for excellence!




For the first time since March 2013, The Cartel: The Apprentice Volume 1 is available for a free download - Amazon only, due to my experiment with the exclusive Kindle Unlimited (KU) program.


FREE April 1-5 Only




All other  Amazon stores, as well. 



Vast and complex, a source of great danger, as well as potential wealth - the Crevasse of the Twelve Systems are not to be entered lightly.  Committing  The Cartel: The Apprentice Volume 1  to an exclusive contract with KU for the next three months inspires the same blend of excitement and terror.


Of those who enter the Crevasse, some never leave.  Others rise to heights of commercial success.  Many books enter KU to be lost in the overpopulated void - others rise to the top 100 in their subgenre.  Which fate awaits The Cartel?


I have no idea.


I have found that KU does offer some additional promo options.  A biggie for all my Kindle friends with The Cartel on their TBR - Freebie Promo! And it's coming soon!

KU or not KU?

For an obscure author - new readers are the holy grail.  With the rise of Kindle Unlimited, more and more readers are voting to test 'new to them authors' with the no risk program.

Wise readers.

A bit dangerous for authors.   If - or should I say once?  If, Amazon achieves total ebook domination, independent authors will suffer as small businesses have from Amazon Prime.

That said - new readers are the holy grail of the obscure author.

Reluctantly, starting next Friday, I am committing The Cartel: The Apprentice Volume 1, to KU for the minimum 3 month period.

It's what Lilian would do -  Embrace the necessary to achieve the dream.

Marketing isn't as much fun as writing

Welcome to the revamped website for all things Twelve Systems.

Writing is so much more fun than marketing. Which is why the Twelve Systems Chronicles website has languished for ages while I finished Transgressions: The Apprentice Volume 3.

With the release of Transgressions, I could dodge it no longer.  If you haven't already, please check out the changes including my new author page that has a place for leaving messages.

Interested in my notably erratic updates on the Twelve Systems? Send your email to

Please be gentle.

Transgression: The Apprentice Volume 3 is now available!

It took a little longer than planned, but  - thanks to my gifted story editor, Carolyn Manetti (Common Market Films); and brilliantly OCD copy editor, Elizabeth Fenagle (Razor Sharp Edting) - Transgressions: The Apprentice Volume 3 is now available.





Life within the Serengeti Cartel is perilous, riddled with malice and intrigue that can threaten the mightiest of warriors. For Lilian – brilliant, despised and one misstep away from execution for her father’s crimes – all that stands between her and destruction is the powerful warrior Lucius Mercio. In return for his protection, Lilian became Lucius' apprentice, yielding control of her body, will, and intellect. The desperate gamble has paid off. In defiance of all expectation, Lilian has survived nearly a third of her trial by ordeal, but it is far from over.


Determined to raise Serengeti to the pinnacle of power in the Twelve Systems, Lucius has ruthlessly exploited Lilian’s brilliance to achieve his ambitions. Within seasons, he will lead Serengeti to new heights with the launch of Bright Star, the first stellar exploration venture in over two centuries. With each new success, Lucius’ rivals multiply while a traitor stalks the halls of Serengeti, determined to thwart Lucius by any means. As the viciousness of her enemies escalates, Lilian is forced to confront the past and choose between betraying her oath of loyalty to Lucius and protecting the deadly secrets of her father's dark acts.

Haven't read The Cartel or Bright Star?
Prefer to start a series at the beginning?

Now available at at 25% discount, The Twelve Systems Bundle: The Cartel & Bright Star

Normally USD$6.99, it is discounted to USD$5.99




 Currently scheduled for a late January release,

Transgressions - The Apprentice Volume 3 is on its way!



After several delays, The Apprentice Volume 3: Transgressions  is moving forward.  Jim O'Connor Photography ( is hard at work on the cover, Razor Sharp Editing ( is lined up for proofreading in November and our Commonmarket Films is hard at work on the story edits.   We may manage a 2015 release after all.  

In the meantime - a sneak peek:


This is ill.  I am the sum of my ancestors.

Milord, monsignors Sebastian and Elenora, Seigneur Trevelyan, and Seigneur Damocles are all seated at the judgment panel.  Master Straus is at the podium and Archive Master Liger is seated at the techno console. 

I am the the foundation of my family.  Milord and Seigneur Trevelyan are angry, although it is well controlled.  Monsignor Sebastian is as dyspeptic as ever and Seigneur Damocles, still bearing the marks of his failed challenge to Trevelyan, appears … hungry?  Monsignor Elenora is annoyed.  

Honor is my blade and shield.  It is a formal Cartel judgment and Lilian is the accused.  Tabitha?  Lilian knew when she began her conspiracy to free Tabitha that it could be deemed ‘effrontery,’ a transgression against Grey Spear sovereignty.  For such effrontery, Monsignor Sebastian could demand to see her belted or even caned.  This day.  Do not volunteer.

At a gesture from milord, Lilian addresses the author of her summons, “Associate Master, what is your wish of me?”

Straus’ stern expression is all the warning Lilian receives, “Monsignor Sebastian indicts you for interference in the bond of Mistress Tabitha.”

Adelaide defend me!  Bond interference?  This is completely unanticipated.  Honor knows not fear.  This is a far greater charge than effrontery.  If Lilian is found guilty, the lightest penalty will be caning.  The severest will be time added to Lilian’s bond to be served with Monsignor Sebastian.

“How do you respond to this indictment, Mistress Lilian?”  Master Straus presses.

Honor endures.  This day.  Carefully feeling her way, uncertain of the protocol, Lilian relies on formality, “If you please, Associate Master, I most vehemently deny having behaved in such an egregious manner.” 

Acknowledge it is a terrible crime and deny having committed it. 

“Very well, you will answer to the evidence against you,” Straus accepts Lilian’s plea of innocence.  His almost imperceptible nod of approval reduces Lilian’s fear and increases her confidence.  She has done well. 

Referring to his slate, the Associate Master cites.  “It is charged that you willfully and knowingly assisted Mistress Tabitha in flouting her lord’s will and serving her own ambitions in defiance of Monsignor Sebastian’s requirements.  In evidence, we have this record from the Archives monitors.”

With the summation of the charge, the reviewer presents a visual of Lilian explaining to Tabitha how to access and interpret a series of commerce analytics. 

Five Warriors take it!  There was naught in those interactions to trigger a monitor review.  Someone went searching.  Seigneur Damocles!  The Security-Privilege Seigneur’s smug smile is all the confirmation Lilian needs.

“There are several other recordings of a similar nature,” concludes Straus.

Honor acts as duty commands.  Seigneur Trevelyan assured her their actions were within stricture.  Openly confused, Lilian confirms, “Yes Associate Master, I deny it not.”

At Lilian’s response Damocles and Sebastian radiate excitement. 

Mitigation.  Lilian was careful to make certain that were her actions discovered, there would be sufficient mitigation that milord could extract a minimal penalty.  I will not fall.  I will not fail.  Without prompting, Lilian continues her confession, “Should Master Straus review any sevenday in the past year, there will be similar recordings.  Apprentice requests are the lowest priority for Archive Master Liger and his associates.  The apprentice staff often seeks my assistance when I am present and at liberty to respond.”

The Archive Master is nodding, “It is true.  I witness it often.  It is useful.  The questions are basic and her assistance leaves my associates free to address more complex and higher priority requirements.”

Sebastian scowls, “You would have me believe that this doxy has sufficient knowledge of analytical archives to routinely act as an archivist?” 

Ignoring the governor’s rising choler, Liger calmly responds, “Indeed monsignor, more than sufficient knowledge.  Mistress Lilian has refined two of our standard analytical models and I am reviewing another.” 

The Shades be praised.  At Master Liger’s testimony, Lilian’s fear dissolves.  She may yet be belted for effrontery, they cannot prove bond interference.

“Lilian, I knew naught of this,” milord’s harsh tones snap Lilian from her relief.

Milord is angered.  By her Archives efforts?  Minor revisions to what she considers routine algorithms barely registered in her workload.  Lackwit.  Milord has been surprised by his apprentice in front of Grey Spear.  Lilian has erred, “I beg pardon, milord.  I did not consider the effort worthy of milord’s notice.” 

“Effrontery!”  Monsignor Sebastian is almost purple with outrage as he glares at Lucius.  “Your doxy has no business making such suggestions and Master Liger should be chastising her, not encouraging such behavior.  I will see her caned for that alone.”


Indie Book Discoveries

Hi everyone!   From time to time I discover or get turned onto a promising book by an independent author.   On those occasions I will either write a review or link to one.   Today's choice is an Extreme Horror Title - so you all know I'm basing my recommendation on a trusted source and not personal reading.


"Matt Shaw shocks the reader on page one, drawing one into this new and bizarre world that is ruthless and primitive."

For the full review of SICK BASTARDS, click on this link.


Amazon price 99Cents

Spring Celebration! The Cartel 99 Cents through April 1!

It's been a long cold lonely winter

The ice is slowly melting...

To celebrate - The Cartel:  The Apprentice Volume 1 is on sale for 99 Cents through April 1!

GoodReads Rating: 4.2
Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars



THE CARTEL, - The Apprentice Volume 1

Raised to wealth and privilege, Lilian’s future was shattered when her father was convicted of terrible crimes. By law and custom she should have followed him into death to redeem her corrupt genetics. Desperate to avoid execution for crimes not her own, Lilian accepts an indenture contract with a powerful warrior. For three years he will have total control of her body, will and intellect.

Invitation to the Twelve Systems

Kicking off the new year,  Goodreads' Shut Up & Read has sponsored a Q&A blog about The Cartel,   The Twelve Systems and yours truly, author E.G. Manetti.


In appreciation,  the discounted set of  The Cartel and Bright Star,  The Twelve Systems Bundle  will be available from January 29 - February 2, 2015.


Welcome to the Twelve Systems - Swords and Spaceships.   Romance and Adventure.

Twelve Systems Bundle

Amazon  Kindle:

Barnes & Noble Nook:


Butterflies the size of pterodactyls

Exposure is good. All indie authors need venues to promote their work and their brand. Book Festivals are a biggie.

Tomorrow's Baltimore Book Festival feels like it deserves it's own 'What We Think' poster. The kind that shows what:

  • my parents think it will be like - hushed crowds lining up to meet the author;
  • my husband thinks it will be like - sitting with my feet up, sipping lemonade and schmoozing;
  • my friends think it will be like - me gazing starry eyed at regional author celebs *they're not too far off*;
  • I hope it will be like - steady traffic and sales pushing triple digits with someone I don't know staying through my 15 minute reading;
  • I worry it will be like - desert at my station and even the family won't stay for the reading.

Damn the pterodactyls, full speed ahead!

*... and a nice bottle of chardonnay chilling against my return*

Meet the Author! Baltimore Book Festival - September 27, 2014

Hello Everyone,

Saturday, September 27, 2014,  I'll be in the 2nd Authors tent at the Baltimore Book Festival from Noon until 8PM.

The mid-Atlantic's premier celebration of the literary arts moves to Baltimore's Inner Harbor in 2014. The festival features more than 200 celebrity and local authors, readings, workshops, children’s activities, panel discussions, cookbook demonstrations, more than 100 exhibitors and booksellers, live music, food and more.

To celebrate The Twelve Systems  inclusion in this event, there will be raffle for:

  1. Signed copies of both The Cartel and Bright Star;
  2. Name a character in the upcoming third volume, Transgressions;
  3. Name a planet in The Twelve Systems.

No purchase necessary, just stop by and say hi!

June Writing Process Blog Hop

June is turning into a busy month for The Twelve System Chronicles.  In response to reader requests, The Cartel – The Apprentice Volume 1, and Bright Star – The Apprentice- Volume 2 are now available in trade paperback through Amazon.  Although I appreciate the simplicity of the traditional printed book, I worry a little about the trees. 

I have also met some wonderful authors through various forums and one of them invited me to participate in this blog hop on the writing process which also gives me a chance to introduce some exciting indie authors, which I will do at the end of this blog.  

For those of you who may not be familiar with a Blog Hop, authors answer a few questions and then tag each other so that the tagged authors keep up the chain the following week.  I was tagged last week by Katie Beitz who has recently published her debut novel, The Shadow Miner.  A young adult fantasy, its vivid imagery is inspired by the rugged landscapes of Australia where she makes her home.

You can find Katie’s blog, her Amazon page, and her Goodreads profile

1.What am I working on?  As all the marketing efforts have heated up in the past few weeks, I’m finding it difficult to squeeze in time for actual writing.  As we move into July, and everything slows down, I plan to give extended attention to Transgressions – The Apprentice Volume 3.  The first eight chapters are almost ready and should be off to my creative editor by the end of June.  With a little luck, Transgressions should make into print and e-book in the first quarter of 2015.

2. How does my work differ from others in this genre?  Romantic Science-Fiction is a mash-up to begin with, in my stories it gets further ‘mashed’ with additions of an alternate universe and elements of intrigue, suspense.  The stories also push against the conventions of both romance and science fiction.  There is no question Lucius and Lilian will be together; the tension comes from what the relationship will do to both of them.  Yes there is space travel and nifty technology, but the core of the story is Lilian’s struggle to survive in an unforgiving society.  Although each novel is part of a series, each is designed to stand on its own so that a core plot line is resolved with each novel, while themes flow from one to another. 

3.  Why do I write what I write?  Because my characters make me.  When the idea of these novels came to me, I thought it was a single novel.  As I began to write the characters developed personalities and agendas and refused to get out of my head until I wrote them down.  So I did.  They liked it, so they continue to come up with new stories they want me to tell.

4. How does your writing process work?  When the story comes to me it is very organic, the narrative line spills out very quickly and I keep typing until I run out of words or sleep overtakes me.  Often there will be big gaps in the story as I race to capture the vivid images and dialog.  Afterwards, it becomes a very deliberate process to turn the draft into a well-crafted, readable story.  Transgressions was drafted in about two weeks.  It will take through the end of the year to fill in the gaps, revise the writing to flow smoothly, check facts (it may be science fiction but the laws of physics still apply) and find graceful ways to provide whatever context is needed from prior volumes.  It’s always an adventure to polish a draft.  I never know when I’m going to find a really creative passage and be impressed or a really dull one and be horrified.

Passing the blog.  Up next week, 6/23 are:

Vicki Wilson, a super talented South African author who is busy working on her third Women's Crime Fiction Romance novel.  The first is How to Start Living or Die Trying.  Vicki’s blog is found at and more about the author at  Her two currently available novels at

Patrick Wong writes Young Adult fiction with a paranormal twist.  His first novel, Balancer is wonderful and inventive addition to the genrePatrick’s blog is  and Balancer is found at

Real Books - Real Authors

Although it continues to surprise me, I'm often in conversations that run something like this...

Friend:  Your novel sounds interesting, where can I buy it?

Me:  Amazon, Apple, Nook, Kobo.

Friend:  I don't like e-books, I like real books.


While I worry a bit about the trees, the price of on demand publishing (USA distribution only) has dropped to the point where I can produce 'real' books via amazon.  So I have.   In the interests of the planet (and sales)the e-books are still cheaper, but now I have 'real' books.  So I guess that makes me a 'real' author.